Monday, October 3, 2011


I had the Today Show on this morning and in between the news of the day there was a big segment on the rumors surrounding the marriage of actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. They had "experts" and commentators on discussing this "breaking news". I have no idea what they were saying because the volume was turned off thankfully. I am continually stunned that there is an audience for this type of thing. I don't know any value that is gained from learning random details about Ashton and Demi's marriage (yeah, we're on a first name basis because I know them so well). Until they hire me to go photograph their next wedding, divorce or birthday party and I have the chance to get to know them, I have no interest whatsocompletelytotallyincrediblyyeahgimmeabreak-ever in details that may or may not be true about their personal lives.

There are stories out there screaming for our attention. There are people out there that are yelling for help. There are people that if you had the chance to get to know they would change your life for the better. They would inspire you and just by meeting them even once they would make you want to live each day with more purpose. Demi? Ashton? Maybe. I'll probably never know. There IS someone though that I do know would have this affect on you.

His name is Tyler.

I first met Tyler years ago when he started attending Camp Goodtimes. It seems like I've known him forever. He's been such a fixture at camp and entertained kids and staff alike with his unique sense of humor and inquisitive nature. This year he did not attend because his camper days are behind him now that he has turned 18. Despite setbacks that are mind boggling and recoveries that are almost as astounding, Tyler graduated with his high school class ON TIME.

Quite simply, Tyler is one of the strongest people that I know, AND patient. He's actually been a very patient patient. He's endured 38 surgeries. Whenever he has his head shaved for surgery and before it grows back in again his noggin looks like a topographic map of Nevada. To treat his condition and relieve his severe headaches he has had numerous shunts installed, then repaired, removed or replaced. Right now he's back in the hospital recovering from surgery #38 and anticipating yet another later this week. I had a wonderful visit with him last week and he was alert and smiling and recovering nicely from #38. He had a laser level pointed at the side of his head so that his excess fluid could drain from his head. Precise placement of the drain was vital because as he told me, "If I'm not perfectly level, excess fluid can drain out and I could die." That statement shocked me. What do you say to that besides, "Well then for Pete's sake, STAY LEVEL!" I should actually say, "...for Pete, Vera and Niki's sake", his parents and sister.

Here's an 18 year old kid who has to be stuck in the hospital and he knows that if he doesn't remain level in his hospital bed or his chair, that he could die. Nurses clamp the drain whenever he has to move, even if he is just repositioning himself in his chair. After he gets settled, they turn on the laser level and get him situated just right and then reopen the valve. This goes on 24-7.

His attitude is so matter of fact. I don't hear him complain. I just hear him talk bluntly about his treatment and then excitedly about other things, like attending the Starlight Prom in the spring, or about fun memories from camp. He told me that when he gets older he wants to get a tattoo on both arms that will say, "Cancer Sucks!". Yes it does, big time.

I'm just so sorry that Tyler has to go through all of this. He's gentle and kind hearted and he's always interested in what other people are doing. His is just such a genuine young man and I'm hoping and praying that his condition is stabilized soon so he can get on to enjoying his life. I wish for him that his worries can be the regular ones that an average 18 year old worries about and NOT about the crappy ones that confront him every single day at the moment.

He's strong, NINJA strong, and he has grown up and learned how to fight. His instructor has been Cancer itself. Soon I am confident that this student will defeat his teacher.

Striking our favorite NINJA pose at the Camp Goodtimes reunion party last spring.

An amazing young man!


  1. Great story. Thanks for writing about Tyler. I've heard occasional reports from his Dad but this was nice and the photos are great.

  2. wonderful words for such a strong young man. I have never gotten to meet him in person but his uncle Dave had such a love for him and his sister I feel that I knew him well. Get better Tyler and yes Cancer does Suck!

    love deidre